Protect Against Social Security Fraud With an Online Account

Protect against fraud by setting up an online account at any age.

Senior male talking on smartphone while seated at table. Laptop is on table in front of him.
(Image credit: Paul Sutherland)

The Social Security Administration is adding an extra layer of protection to online accounts.

Anyone signing in to an online Social Security account, or signing up for the first time, must provide either a cell-phone number or an e-mail address to receive a unique, one-time code by text or e-mail. The Social Security Administration rolled out a similar two-step process in 2016, but it restricted the extra layer of protection to text message only.

It’s smart to set up an online account even if you’re years from retirement. Once you’ve done so, identity thieves will be unable to create a fraudulent account in your name and use it to apply for benefits. In addition, you can check your earnings history against your W-2 forms or tax returns to make sure there are no gaps in your earnings record that could reduce your Social Security benefits. You can also look up estimated retirement, disability and survivor benefits and, in certain cases, request a replacement Social Security card.

Subscribe to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Be a smarter, better informed investor.

Save up to 74%

Sign up for Kiplinger’s Free E-Newsletters

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more - straight to your e-mail.

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice - straight to your e-mail.

Sign up

To set up an account, go to You’ll need to enter some personal details, answer questions to confirm your identity, and choose a unique username and a complex password.

Miriam Cross
Associate Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Miriam lived in Toronto, Canada, before joining Kiplinger's Personal Finance in November 2012. Prior to that, she freelanced as a fact-checker for several Canadian publications, including Reader's Digest Canada, Style at Home and Air Canada's enRoute. She received a BA from the University of Toronto with a major in English literature and completed a certificate in Magazine and Web Publishing at Ryerson University.